Good songs stick with you. There were several songs of 2015 that made a mark on me, so I went through the always enjoyable task of picking out the ones that stuck out the most.
Granted, some artists could have easily landed three or more tracks on this list, so I tried to limit it to one song per artist. This is my list, however, so there will be some exceptions to that rule. Deal with it. These are my favorite songs of 2015.
All Dogs – “That Kind of Girl”
I love a good song where no shits are given. “That Kind of Girl” is a straight kick in the teeth from the get-go and it doesn’t let up until the final seconds tick off the clock.
Courtney Barnett – “Pedestrian at Best”
Based on this song, more artists need to start selling themselves short, because “Pedestrian at Best” is pretty darn great.
Desaparecidos – “The Left is Right”
Righteous Conor Oberst-ian anger sure sounds good.
Destroyer – “Times Square”
There are three versions of “Times Square” on Poison Season, but this is the least square of them all. Or would it be the most square? Either way, it’s good.
Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment – “Sunday Candy”
I’m not ranking this list, but if you pressed me to pick my favorite song of the year, Chance the Rapper’s Social Experiment love song to his grandmother might be it. It’s nearly impossible to come away from this one without smiling.
Father John Misty – “I Went to the Store One Day”
An absolutely stunning closer on a tremendous album, “I Went to the Store One Day” achieves an impressive feat: It takes an artist who sings songs about getting high with shamans and President Jesus and strips him down to a man that’s simply smitten with his wife and reminiscing about how they met.
Father John Misty – “The Ideal Husband”
Josh Tillman knows how to throw a rocker in on his albums. This one kicks awful hard as he struggles with anxiety over how he may not be great husband material after all.
FIDLAR – “40 oz. on Repeat”
“40 0z on Repeat” is the cheeseburger of songs. It’s good, fun, and never take itself too seriously. That’s a wonderful combination.
Frank Turner – “Silent Key (Acoustic)”
The regular studio version of this track is also great, but the acoustic version really offers a stripped down version of this emotional gut punch of a song.
Girl Band – “Paul”
There’s something frighteningly hypnotic about this song. Perhaps it’s partially due to the memorable music video it’s attached to, but “Paul” is an abrasive, primal, and unnerving experience. In a good way, of course.
Grimes – “Flesh Without Blood”
Grimes could churn out Top 40 hits like crazy if she wanted to, but I’m so happy she makes the music she wants to, like the gem “Flesh Without Blood.” It’s weird pop music at its best.
Hamilton Official Soundtrack – “Burn”
There are so many songs I could choose from Hamilton, but the gorgeous heartbreak of “Burn” keeps sticking with me. A haunting performance from Phillipa Soo that will just give you the chills.
Hop Along – “Sister Cities”
One of my favorite vocal performances of the year. It’s a great closing statement on a rousing release from Hop Along.
Jaime xx – “Gosh”
If Jamie xx wants to make you dance, he’ll make you dance, gosh darn it.
Jeff Rosenstock – “Nausea”
I wasn’t expecting to type this particular statement, but I can’t get sick of “Nausea.”
Julien Baker – “Sprained Ankle”
I discovered this song not too long ago and I fell for it after a single listen. It’s amazing how a tune so gentle can cut so deeply. The feels are strong with this one.
Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
“Alright” is more than just a great hip-hop track; it’s the anthem for a whole generation of oppressed Americans.
Kendrick Lamar – “King Kunta”
After you’re done hearing this song, the funk shall be within you. And we want the funk.
Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin”
Judging by his songs, Kurt Vile is a sneakily funny guy, like the person who makes you think before you smirk. Also, he’s good at that whole guitar thing.
Majical Cloudz – “Downtown”
Some of the lyrics in this track could come off as saccharine if Devon Welsh didn’t sell them so convincingly. Instead, “And if suddenly I die / I hope they say / that he was obsessed and it was okay” comes off as one of the most honest, loving lines of the year.
Mikal Cronin – “Turn Around”
Mikal Cronin is really good at making string-aided, sunny pop-rock tracks. “Turn Around” is one of said tracks, and it is really good. End of blurb.
Modest Mouse – “Lampshades on Fire”
As a big Modest Mouse fans, I must admit that I found Strangers to Ourselves a bit disappointing. Still, “Lampshades on Fire” is some twitchy Mouse goodness that I could get behind.
The Mountain Goats – “Heel Turn 2”
If there’s a guy who can give you the feels over professional wrestlers, it’s John Darnielle. “Hel Turn 2” is a beautiful, bittersweet song about taking a stand and surviving, even if you have to turn heel to do it.
Protomartyr – “The Devil in His Youth”
I could listen to Protomartyr perform a whole album about the youthful exploits of the Devil. Fortunately, I’ve got this track to tide me over until that (never) happens.
Punch Brothers – “Julep”
Just an absolutely gorgeous track from this scarily talented string band. It’s a gentle, layered creation that doesn’t need any glitz and glamour to impress.
Quarterbacks – “Lauren”
Quick, punchy, and a whole lot of fun. That’s pretty much the main theme of Quarterback’s self-titled 2015 album, and “Lauren” is a standout in a sea of sub-two-minute tracks that never overstay their welcome.
Saintseneca – “River”
It’s impressive just how solid Saintseneca is. There’s not a stinker on Such Things, but “River” gets my nod on this list.
Sleater-Kinney – “Price Tag”
Sleater-Kinney wastes no time to reintroduce themselves on No Cities to Love. Just a kickass opening track from a kickass band.
Sufjan Stevens – “Fourth of July”
Need a good cry? Listen to this gorgeous track about a conversation between Sufjan Stevens and his estranged mother and make sure you’re somewhere where you can cuddle something.
Sufjan Stevens – “The Only Thing”
“Fourth of July” not enough for you? How about Stevens discussing suicidal urges over a bed of brightly-plucked riff? It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.
Titus Andronicus – “Dimed Out”
Titus Andornicus usually does long, sweeping punk tracks, but “Dimed Out” is a furious three minutes of rawk, and it feels so good.
Twin Shadow – “Old Love / New Love”
While it could be discounted as it was a one-off single for the release of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013, it’ll get a mention here since it was part of Twin Shadow’s 2015 release Eclipse. Also, because it’s an absolute dance jam. That too.
Tyler Smilo – “Dust in a Grave”
I had the pleasure of getting to see this guy play a few times when I covered the music scene for a paper in Erie, Pa. His latest album was pretty great as a whole, but it’s the rousing defiance on the title track that really hits home.
Wilco – “You Satellite”
I love how this track just keeps building until the final fantastic climax. This song was also one of my favorite live moments of the 2015 when Wilco visited the Masonic Auditorium.
Will Butler – “Son of God”
Will Butler had a promising solo album away from Arcade Fire this year. It was hit and miss overall, but “Son of God” had enough punch that I’ll be intrigued to see where Butler does next (aside from another Arcade Fire album, of course).
Now Hear This is a regular column in which Alex Bieler writes about music – both new and old – that he thinks you should introduce to your ears. If you’ve got a musical suggestion that you think he should highlight, shoot him an email at email@example.com or tweet at him at @Catch20Q.